Hey everybody! It’s @TheMagnumDA with another edition of Monday Night Raw.
Wanted to take a moment and let our English fans know that I’m thinking about them, in light of the most recent terrorist attack in Manchester. It’s terrible and senseless, especially in a setting of defenseless women and children. My thoughts are with those affected by this heinous act.
Getting back to Raw…I was just kidding about this show having an “I’MMA TELLYA” count for Booker T. I was not kidding, however, about having extra snark tonight. That said, before I get any further…I want to share my thoughts on this weekend’s programming for WWE:
- NXT TakeOver was the best WWE show this past weekend, with “Showstopper of the Week” honors going to Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne. This was a classic ****3/4 UK Championship Match (sorry Colin, couldn’t go Full Monty on the second viewing!) Even if I didn’t give it five stars, this match gave the UK Championship prestige that rivals the NXT/Cruiserweight Championships, at this point.
- I really liked the closing moments of the show, specifically the Ciampa turn on Gargano. Little things, like displaying the closing credits prior to the heel turn, go a long way in creating the atmosphere of unpredictability. I thought the beat down on Gargano and the closing shots of Ciampa sitting on the table were CA$H MONEY.
- This might surprise some people, but as happy as I was for Jinder Mahal winning the WWE Championship…I also have a really big problem with it.
Why, you might ask? Indulge me, if you will…
Jinder has been back for only 10 months since returning to WWE in July 2016. His run from 2010-2014 was anything but inspirational. Whereas guys like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels worked their way up the card for the better part of a decade, Jinder wallowed in mediocrity with 3MB until he was finally released in the spring of 2014. With all due respect, Jinder was not protected by any stretch, and he garnered one of the worst W-L records of any wrestler during that stretch of time.
When Mahal returned in July of 2016, there was little to no fanfare. Jinder was given the Tensai treatment (more or less advancing other talent on Raw). For the next six months, there was not a single moment where Jinder looked like a credible top-tier guy. He was second fiddle in a tag team with Rusev that went absolutely nowhere. Again, Jinder’s W-L record was completely down the tubes.
Starting in late 2016, something started to happen with Jinder that raised a lot of eyebrows and red flags from astute fans. His physique, which was already quite impressive, developed even more. He started to resemble guys like the Ultimate Warrior and Scott Steiner, with veins literally popping out of his arms. Mahal also developed a considerable amount of Bacne (“Back Acne”, a common side effect of frequent steroid users). He looked like he would fail a Wellness Policy test, but apparently that’s not the case (these are my opinions and not the opinions of Wrestling-Online).
At WrestleMania, the push of The Maharaja began. Mahal was given some credibility by placing runner-up in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. From there, he concussed Finn Balor on Raw in a three-minute match. An incident like this should have led to Mahal getting shunted down the card, but instead he was moved to Smackdown. Mahal became #1 Contender in his first match with the brand. That led us to last night, where Jinder stunned Randy Orton to become the WWE Champion.
So why does Mahal’s title reign bother me? Because his title win sends a message to everyone on both rosters: We will push you if you look like you’re jacked up on roids, and we will continue to push you even if you put one of our top guys on the shelf. Guys like Jinder (who look roided up and demonstrate carelessness) should be punished, not rewarded. Yet the complete opposite is happening.
It’s also a message to guys like Kevin Owens: We don’t care how good of a promo you are, we don’t care how safe you are in the ring, and we don’t care about your level of talent. Physique is what separates World Champions from the rest.
Anyways, rant over. ON WITH THE SHOW!
We start Raw off with Bray Wyatt! He tells us that, after defeating his four opponents at Extreme Rules, he plans on feasting on the black heart of Brock Lesnar. Well, so much for this being a “PG Show”. Wyatt runs down each of the four opponents, including Roman Reigns. This, of course, brings out Reigns. Roman says that he will be the one facing Brock Lesnar. Kurt Angle comes out (to the first sincere pop of the night) and announces that these two men will face each other…right MEOW!
Match #1 – Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt
Bray does a BIZARRE dance around the ring and they lock up. This lock up lasts 42 minutes. Roman finally gets a headlock and gets sent into the ropes. They charge at each other, but nobody gets an advantage. They trade rights and then Bray does the spider hang in the corner. Big boot by Roman to Wyatt’s face, sending him outside. Reigns decks Bray with a right hand, sending Wyatt crashing into the barricade. Back inside, Wyatt takes advantage and hits the Uranage Slam. Then Bray starts eating the ropes. Augustus, sweetie, save some room for later. Wyatt sends Reigns into the corner with a whip, which sends Roman to his knees because of the injured ribs. Reigns explodes out of the corner with a clothesline to Wyatt.
Both men get to their feet, and Reigns hits the clotheslines in the far corner post. Wyatt gets whipped into the ropes, but he counters and hits the running body press. With both men down, Samoa Joe appears! “With intent,” Booker T adds. Joe tells Bray to get up and double team Roman with him, but Bray refuses. Joe hits the Kokina Clutch on Reigns (causing the DQ), and Bray beats down a fallen Roman. Joe sneaks up on Bray with the Clutch! Seth Rollins makes his way down and attacks Joe! Reigns gets up and hits a Superman Punch on Wyatt! The ring is cleared, and the former Shield members stand alone as the PPV theme plays. Hmm…not sure if I like that touch or not.
Winner: Roman Reigns by DQ (*)
Two matches are announced for later tonight: Finn Balor vs. Karl Anderson, and Matt Hardy vs. Sheamus, with the winner picking the stipulation for the Tag Title match at Extreme Rules.
Backstage, Reigns tells Rollins that he doesn’t want help. Rollins insists that he was not trying to help Roman. Angle comes in and tells both guys that they will be teaming up against Wyatt and Samoa Joe. THE DRIFTER appears and Angle tells him that he has a match tonight…with Dean Ambrose!
Match #2 – Akira Tozawa vs. Ariya Daivari
The match starts with Akira missing a kick, and Ariya returning with fists. Akira chops Ariya and lands some right hands. They have a counter exchange leading to Akira hitting a kick to the chest for two. Akira misses a charge to the corner, and Daivari hits a HUGE clotheslines for two. They go to the backstage area, where The Brian Kendrick looks on. Brian says that he’s annoyed by those “Ah!!” chants from the crowd (for Tozawa). Thanks for that input. Back to the ring…Daivari hits a big knee but Tozawa hits a huge kick, followed by the Floating Senton Bomb for the ONE, TWO, THREE!
Winner: Akira Tozawa (*)
Backstage, Kendrick admits he’s impressed. Kendrick then tells the world he will destroy Tozawa tomorrow night on 205 Live in a Street Fight. Charly then interviews Sasha Banks, who says that Alicia Fox will finally get hers. This brings out Noam Dar and Alicia Fox, who insult Banks. Sasha intimidates Noam to the point that he is unable to finish his thought. Wow.
Match #3 – Dean Ambrose vs. Elias Samson (The Drifter)
I gotta admit…that debut performance by The Drifter was pretty sub-par. When Aiden English has a better performance than you, you’re in trouble. Not a good start for The Drifter. In fact, his performance gets cut off by Ambrose’s entrance. Samson gets a headlock on Dean to start, but the camera goes off the match and on The Miz, who happens to be on commentary. WHO CARES?! Back to the match! Ambrose gets a couple of armdrags, but Samson is able to get some offense of his own, including a huge elbow. Samson pounds Dean in the corner, and then smashes Dean right in the face with a huge knee as we go to break.
After the break, Samson has Ambrose in a chinlock as Dean fights up. GET THE CAMERA OFF THE MIZ! Dean gets pulled back in the clutch, but he fights out with fists to the gut. Irish whip is reversed into a big left arm clothesline by Samson for two. Samson pulls back on the left arm in a Fujiwara Armbar. Ambrose fights up with forearms and a boot to the face. Neckbreaker by Ambrose and both men are down. Ambrose sells the left arm but fights back with running clotheslines to The Drifter. Dean goes up top, but Elias DRILLS him with a standing lifted knee as Dean comes down. Miz comes down ringside after Dean hits a clothesline. Miz enters the ring and gently stomps on Samson, causing a DQ!
Winner: Elias Samson by DQ (*3/4)
After the match, Miz and Dean play shenanigans, allowing Samson to level Ambrose. Miz stands with his wife at the top of the stage, taunting Dean. Backstage, Enzo Amore is found motionless! Cass freaks out, asking the refs what happened. After the break, we learned that Enzo has recovered enough to speak. He is carried away with the refs as Big Cass tells Angle that he better find out who did this.
Match #4 – Finn Balor vs. Karl Anderson
Before the match, Finn cuts a promo on his Fatal 5 Way opponents at Extreme Rules. He flubs a word and says “Oops!” on camera. Cute. Finn’s promo is cut off by PAUL HEYMAN! Heyman runs down each of the opponents, calling them future victims of Brock Lesnar. Heyman walks into the ring to speak with Finn Balor. Heyman considers Balor the most gifted wrestler in WWE. Heyman wishes Balor good luck, and Balor boldly claims that he will go on to defeat Brock Lesnar after winning the Fatal 5 Way.
The match is joined in progress after the break. Anderson has an advantage but Balor comes back with an attack of his own! Balor stomps down Anderson while he’s down. Gallows tries to interfere, leading to an elbow by Anderson. Anderson pulls on Balor’s face in the ropes. Gallows gets a cheap shot on Balor, leading to a nearfall by Anderson. Anderson gets Balor in the sleeperhold, but Finn fights to his feet. Anderson brings him back down and kills the comeback. Balor tries to fight up to his feet again, but Anderson catches a backbreaker for two. Apparently, according to Michael Cole, the backbreaker is now known as “the knee to the spine.” Whatevs. Finn fights up a third time, and Anderson catches an Overhead Kick to the temple!
Balor hits another kick from the corner, followed by running forearms and a running low dropkick. Balor hits the running chop on Anderson, and then hits a WICKED kick that sends Anderson to the outside. Balor runs out to the apron and kicks Gallows in the head! Anderson gets one too! Balor climbed up for the finish, but Anderson gets up and drilled Balor with the Spinebuster! ONE, TWO, NO! They both get up, and Balor sends Anderson to the outside. Gallows and Anderson get hit with a running dive to the outside by Balor! Back inside, Sling Blade and the Coup de Grace hits for Balor! ONE, TWO, THREE!
Winner: Finn Balor (**1/4)
Match #5 – Alicia Fox vs. Sasha Banks
Sasha hits a huge armdrag and a legwhip to start, taking Fox to school. Alicia goes outside to retreat, but Sasha comes after her with a dive to the outside. Banks is distracted by Dar outside, leading to a MASSIVE Mafia Kick by Fox for two. Sleeperhold, but Banks fights out and takes Fox in the corner with her feet! Banks ends this quickly with an AWESOME double knee to the gut for the ONE, TWO, THREE! Well, that was quick.
Winner: Sasha Banks (1/2*)
After the match, Noam Dar gets bitchslapped. Fox steps in with another Mafia Kick to Banks, followed by the Harlem Sidekick! Ouch.
Backstage, Kalisto accuses Apollo Crews of attacking Enzo earlier tonight. Speaking of ouch, how about Kalisto’s promo skills? Poor fella. Titus interrupts and tells Kalisto that there’s plenty of opportunity with the Titus brand. Kalisto wants nothing to do with it, so Titus books Apollo vs. Kalisto for later tonight. I kinda like this slow heel turn for Apollo.
A recap of Goldust’s heel turn on R-Truth is played, and then we have a promo from Goldust. Wow…he’s going full 1995 for this. I like the Python-esque touch with the script.
After this, Charly is backstage with Alexa Bliss. They recap the attack from last week, and Alexa promises to leave permanent welts all over Bayley’s body. Alexa says that Bayley’s fairy tale is over, and she promises the same for Mickie James later tonight.
The recap segment continues with another replay of Braun Strowman’s elbow injury. They’re sticking with six months…but he’s going to be back in seven weeks. You heard it here first.
Match #6 – Kalisto vs. Apollo Crews
Kalisto gets the early advantage and hits a running start to a dive, but Apollo catches him with a running dropkick in the center of the ring! Nice timing. Apollo hits a standing suplex reminiscent of the British Bulldog for two. Apollo catches a dropped front facelock, but Kalisto fights out and charges at Crews. Apollo with an AMAZING Ghetto Blaster, catching Kalisto in the middle of his dash. Apollo tries to hit his powerbomb finish, but Kalisto counters with a rollup for the ONE, TWO, NO! Titus LOSES IT outside, screaming “SICK HIM!” So I guess Apollo is now a dog. Crews gets distracted by this tantrum, allowing Kalisto to hit the Salida Del Sol for the ONE, TWO, THREE!
Winner: Kalisto (*)
Match #7 – Sheamus vs. Matt Hardy (Winner Picks the PPV Stipulation)
Both tag partners are ringside. They lock up twice and Sheamus gets Matt in the ropes. They lock up again, and Matt gets a headlock. Matt pulls the headlock down, but Sheamus gets back up. He tries to get out of the headlock, but no dice! Sheamus finally pulls off the headlock and drills Matt with a charge. Sheamus gets the headlock and forces Matt to the canvas. Matt fights up quickly and punches Sheamus in the gut. Matt hits a huge clothesline, sending Sheamus to the outside. Sheamus charges back in, but almost gets hit with a Twist of Fate! Matt goes outside, but Sheamus catches him off-guard and slams Matt’s head into the apron. On the apron, Sheamus hits the forearms on the chest, followed by a charge that sends Matt face-first into the barricade! Back inside, Sheamus hits a top rope clothesline for the ONE, TWO, NO! Sheamus gets kicked in the face, and rolled up for two! They trade forearms, and Sheamus takes advantage with European uppercuts. Matt sidesteps a charge by Sheamus, and throws him into all three turnbuckles! Sheamus recovers and catches Matt with the rolling fireman’s carry slam for two.
After the break, Sheamus has Matt in the Million Dollar Dream. Matt fights out and hits forearms on Sheamus. Sheamus catches a kick to the face, followed by White Noise for ONE, TWO, NO! Sheamus throws Matt into the turnbuckle, but Matt catches Sheamus with the Tornado DDT! ONE, TWO, NO! Hardy hits some haymakers on Sheamus, followed by a clothesline in the corner. Side Effect for two! Another nearfall! Sheamus catches Matt with a running knee for the ONE, TWO, NO! That knee is going to seriously hurt somebody. Matt ducks Sheamus’ attempt at the Brogue Kick! Jeff attacks Cesaro outside, and Sheamus attacks Jeff in return! This distraction leads to the Twist of Fate by Matt! ONE, TWO, THREE!
Winner: Matt Hardy (**3/4)
After the match, the Hardyz choose a STEEL CAGE as their stipulation for Extreme Rules. The announcers recap the opening segment of tonight’s show.
Match #8 – Austin Aries vs. Tony Nese (w/Neville)
Oh, shove off already, Adrian. Do you just happen to mentor everyone who faces Austin Aries? It’s a little obsessive, don’t you think? Also, whoever neutered Aries’ theme…bring it back to its normal theme.
Nese charges at Aries to start, and catches Austin with a huge knee. Aries returns serve with a knee of his own, followed by an elbow for two. I feel bad that Aries is not getting any heat. Aries with a drop toehold on Nese, followed by a bow-and-arrow into a front facelock. Nese goes for the knee, but Aries catches a rollup for two.
Last Chancery attempt is foiled, but Aries is able to capitalize with a dive to the outside. Back in the ring, Nese kicks Aries’ knee out from under him. Tony takes advantage with some stomps to a fallen Aries. Stomps to Aries’ injured leg. Nese misses a suplex and gets chopped by Austin. They trade chops and Aries catches Nese with a boot. Austin goes up top, but Nese elbows Aries right in the sternum on his way down. Nese tries to hit a suplex, but Austin reverses the front face lock into a guillotine submission! This is transitioned into the Last Chancery! Nese taps!
Winner: Austin Aries (**)
After the match, Neville puts Nese in the Rings of Saturn, and then he whispers (in the voice of Gimli, no less) “…that’s for you…” What a creeper! Someone send me a .gif of that on Twitter, now. I gotta say something, though: how come Aries wouldn’t help save a defenseless wrestler from an attack? I mean, that’s kind of a hint right there that this dude is going heel soon. Just you wait.
Match #9 – Mickie James vs. WWE Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss
Mickie gets a go-behind and they trade reversals into the ropes. Alexa’s facials are just perfect. Wait. Did I just say that? I meant her facial expressions. They lock up again, and Alexa kicks Mickie down in the corner. Mickie returns serve with some chops and kicks. Armbar into a kick in the gut by Mickie, followed by a flurry of clotheslines! Neckbreaker gets two. Series of crosses by Mickie to Alexa’s face, followed by a SERIOUS kick to Alexa’s face. Another elbow to Alexa’s kisser, but then she returns serve with a awesome forearm of her own. DDT by Alexa! ONE, TWO, THREE! Short, but fine.
Winner: Alexa Bliss (*1/2)
After the match, Booker T. declares that Alexa is unleashing “THE FACE OF EXTREME” as she pulls out a Kendo Stick. Gotta have a good grip on the stick before your next facial…er, expression! Alexa loses the stick as Bayley comes in for the save, allowing Bayley to get her hands on it. THIS IS A PG SHOW, DAMN IT!
Main Event – Bray Wyatt & Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns
Quick Question: In a tag team match with four separate entrances, HOW DO YOU BOTCH THE ENTRANCE ORDER?! Help me out, here. Bray Wyatt’s music plays, and then they play Seth Rollins’ entrance. This is almost as bad as the time Curtis Axel came out with Christian’s theme and entrance video. Rollins and Reigns argue about who is going to start. Wyatt attacks Seth, but Seth catches him and throws him out of the ring. Outside, Seth throws Wyatt into the barricade, and then he trades blows with Joe. Rollins gets thrown into the barricade as we go to break.
After the break, Rollins fights out of a chinlock. They botch a move and then Reigns makes the hot tag! Clotheslines to Bray Wyatt! A big kick to Wyatt’s face, followed by a Samoan Drop! Spider pose by Wyatt! As Roman looks on, Samoa Joe catches Roman with a lariat! Wyatt throws Roman outside, and Joe throws Roman into the barricade! Hey, we saw this before the commercial break! Joe hits some weak punches on Roman, and then throws him back in the ring. Joe locks Roman into a neck vice. From where he’s standing, why not try a Kokina Clutch right now?! Reigns fights out of the grip (like most superheroes do in their time of peril), and hits Joe’s guts with some right hands. Samoa Joe stops all momentum with an elbow and a Ghetto Blaster for two. Wyatt gets tagged back in, and Roman is in trouble in the corner. Wyatt loudly calls “Stay right there” as he hits his elbow in the corner. Come on, dude. Be a pro.
Roman fights out of a Cobra Clutch, but then he gets dumped out of the ring by Wyatt. Joe tries to throw Roman into the post, but Roman reverses it. Roman hits Bray with a slngshot off the ropes, followed by a Drive-By on Samoa Joe. Reigns tries to make the hot tag, and Seth is A HOUSE OF FIYAHH! Sweet Blockbuster on Joe, followed by a dive onto Wyatt. Sling Blade onto Samoa Joe. Wyatt grabs Rollins by the leg, but Seth fights them both off. Rollins catches both opponents with the suicide dive! Rollins up top, but Bray grabs the foot again! Joe catches Seth in the corner, and then both men try to suplex Rollins off the top rope. Seth fights them off and hits a double crossbody! As they get up, Wyatt tries to hit Sister Abigail on Seth, but Roman makes the save! Reigns misses the Superman Punch, nailing Seth on his way down. Bray pulls Roman out of the ring and hits Sister Abigail! As Seth watches on…KOKINA CLUTCH by Joe on Seth! Seth passes out and the ref calls for the bell!
Winners: Bray Wyatt & Samoa Joe (***)
Angle is watching backstage, when Finn Balor interrupts. Balor wants a match next week against one of those guys. Angle gives him a triple threat against Joe & Wyatt. He also books Reigns vs. Rollins. Well, there you have it.
Final Thoughts: THIS IS A PG SHOW, DAMN IT! 🙂 See you next week. @TheMagnumDA